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Rachmaninov - The Three Symphonies

Orchestras / Ensembles
Catalogue numberBIS-1665 CD
Release date2007-01-10
Orig. sample rate44100Hz
Total time199:51

The immediate and immense popularity of certain of his works – the second piano concerto in particular – has been both a blessing and a curse for the reputation of Sergei Rachmaninov. It made him a household name in a way that few composers experience, but it also meant that other parts of his oeuvre was overshadowed and neglected. A case in point are the three symphonies, a genre which caused the composer great heartache, beginning with the disastrous reception of Symphony No.1 in 1897, one of the legendary fiascos in the history of music. By all accounts the direction of Alexander Glazunov was less than adequate – according to some eyewitnesses he was drunk! – but the young composer took the critical failure so at heart that he entered a grave depression and a creative crisis. He did not compose again until three years later, and only after ten years did he venture to write another symphony. This was received much more warmly, but even so it took him almost another thirty years to start composing the Third Symphony, premièred in 1936. The delay may have been caused by the composer’s feeling that his Second Symphony had not been fully understood – its epic dimensions, which have been compared to the ‘expanse of the Russian steppes’, have caused many a conductor to make cuts in the score. The composer’s views on this may be judged by the anecdote according to which Eugene Ormandy, preparing for a performance of the work, asked Rachmaninov to suggest cuts; some hours later, the score was returned to him. Only two bars had been crossed out.

This box brings together the three symphonies, coupled with the early works Prince Rostislav and the so-called ‘Youth Symphony’ as well as the composer’s own arrangement for orchestra of Vocalise, possibly his most well-loved piece. The interpretations by Owain Arwel Hughes, conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, were highly praised at the original release (as single discs) of these recordings in 2002 and 2003, as testified by the following quotes:

‘Hughes is the first conductor to convince me that the First Symphony is on a par with its two successors.’ International Record Review

‘A major surprise, this immensely moving and poetic version has made itself a place at the very top of the discography.’ (Symphony No.2) Répertoire

‘Refined and thoughtful ... bringing out the beauty of sound with exceptionally clear textures.’ (Symphony No.3) – Gramophone

‘The great modern Rachmaninov cycle.’ Répertoire
    File formats included in STUDIO QUALITY
    • FLAC 24-bit Stereo
    • FLAC 16-bit Stereo
    • MP3 Stereo
    File formats included in CD QUALITY | MP3
    • FLAC 16-bit Stereo
    • MP3 Stereo
$ 41.19
Extra material for download
Disc 1
  Composer: Rachmaninov, Sergei
  Symphony No.1 in D minor, Op.13 (1895) 45:30
01 I. Grave – Allegro ma non troppo 13:30 $ 2.84 USD
02 II. Allegro animato 09:29 $ 1.99 USD
03 III. Larghetto 10:07 $ 2.12 USD
04 IV. Allegro con fuoco 12:24 $ 2.60 USD
05 Prince Rostislav, symphonic poem (1891) 16:48 $ 3.53 USD
Disc 2
  Composer: Rachmaninov, Sergei
  Symphony No.2 in E minor, Op.27 (1906-07) 67:02
01 I. Largo – Allegro moderato 25:08 $ 5.28 USD
02 II. Allegro molto 10:11 $ 2.14 USD
03 III. Adagio 16:09 $ 3.39 USD
04 IV. Allegro vivace 15:34 $ 3.27 USD
Disc 3
  Composer: Rachmaninov, Sergei
  Symphony No.3 in A minor, Op.44 (1935-36) 44:38
01 I. Lento – Allegro moderato 16:54 $ 3.55 USD
02 II. Adagio ma non troppo 13:25 $ 2.82 USD
03 III. Allegro 14:19 $ 3.01 USD
  Symphonic Movement in D minor ‘Youth Symphony’ (1891)
04 Grave – Allegro molto 14:51 $ 3.12 USD
05 Vocalise, Op.34 No.14, arrangement for orchestra (1912) 07:20 $ 1.54 USD
  Album total 199:51
OrchestraRoyal Scottish National Orchestra
ConductorHughes, Owain Arwel
ComposerRachmaninov, Sergei

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